As the Optimist Daily has often reported, natural spaces improve air quality, mental health, and boost community building. Adding to their list of superpowers, a new study from the University of British Columbia has found that living near green spaces can reduce your risk of developing neurological conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis (MS).
The study analyzed 670,000 adults living more than 50 yards from a major road or more than 160 yards from a major highway. The results were stunning. They found that living near major highways led to a 14 percent increase in non-Alzheimer’s dementia and Parkinson’s disease while living near green spaces reduced the prevalence of neurological diseases.
The reasons for these results are still not clear. It could be that those with access to open spaces are more likely to get outside and be active. It could also be related to air quality, noise pollution, sleep quality, or mental stimulus factors. Likely a combination of all of these.
If you live near a busy road, don’t panic. There are certainly ways to reap the benefits of green spaces without living next to one. Take a walk to a nearby park or plan a hike this weekend! In terms of urban development, this study shows the importance of incorporating open spaces into our city planning. It not only makes our cities more beautiful and enjoyable but may also make residents healthier!